Returning

I haven’t felt myself lately. Where “lately” is “the last nine months or so.” Maybe longer. I was so sick last spring semester that perhaps the depression was already at play, earlier than I thought, masquerading with physical symptoms. In fact, it seems likely.

(The good news about this is I’m slowly re-adding soy to my diet and with no ill effects!)

I first recognized it yesterday after I signed up to volunteer at an event in February. In days past, this would not be something of note, as I was frequently volunteering in some way or another. But in the past six months, I’ve been afraid to leave my bedroom, much less go somewhere public to volunteer. Not only that, but signing up to volunteer required me to answer questions like, “Describe your level of experience working with people with disabilities.” I didn’t write a Nobel Prize-winning essay to be sure, but a month ago, even two sentences would have seemed impossible.

I started walking home from school on days where it is nice (read: not raining and above 25*F) and running for 20 minutes with a toddler doesn’t tire me out to the point of being incapacitated the rest of the day. I can arrive on campus early and tolerate being around people for the “extra” time. I speak out, take the lead in discussions. I make witty reparte’. I look at what remains of my schooling and think, “This is do-able.”

I sit down in front of a blank page and can find a way to put words on it.

I am returning to myself, slowly but surely.

Three Months Later

I’m sitting my hotel room, eating a Mounds bar and laughing at the fact that the calories have been marked out with a sharpie.  (This candy bar is one I snagged at a recent alumni workshop at my treatment center.)  This always frustrated me in treatment, the fact that they marked out the calories on all the “junk” foods they were serving us at snacks and most times I very carefully and secretly scratched off the sharpie to discover just how many calories I was eating.

Today, I just eat the candy bar, because hey – it’s snack time – and who really cares how many calories are in it if it tastes good?

It’s been interesting being back in the town that I was a “prisoner” in for 4 months, interesting to just walk out of the building at the end of the day and go grab dinner wherever I feel like it.  Interesting to go to the arcade with a friend without having to check in with a care tech every 15 minutes to ensure we hadn’t gone AWOL.  Interesting to see the techs and therapists that literally saved my life.

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t, at points, just wanted to go back to being at the Center and being a patient.  What a convenient way to avoid life.  And to feel “successful” at something.  But this time, not “successful” at the eating disorder, but recovery.  The therapists who knew me while I there were impressed with the real me, with the hard work that I continue to do.  At the end of the workshop, the clinical director, who I had earlier been talking with about my grad school plans, told me that I already had the skills to be a great therapist and had proved that with the way I handled some tough situations during the course of the workshop.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience.  One that made me glad that I haven’t given up on recovery yet, no matter how desperately I wanted to look like those teeny tiny girls, who were clearly having difficulties in their own recoveries.  I won’t lie and say it was easy.  At times, it was very, very hard.  At times I wanted to just say “screw it” and skip a meal or a snack and run for a few miles.

But I didn’t.  I kept replaying the words my dietitian had e-mailed to me when I was on my way to the workshop:  “Behave – remember, be a good example and make them jealous where you are at in recovery!”

Did I make anybody jealous by eating all my meals and snacks?  Maybe not.  Was I always excited to do it?  Certainly not.

But holy crap, I’m proud of myself.

I did it – even when I didn’t want to, even when the easier thing would have been to give in to behaviours, even when I was triggered like hell.

Being proud of myself for eating?

That never would have happened three months ago and certainly not six months ago.

There’s still a long way to go, but damn if I haven’t come a long way already.

Now, if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to finish that candy bar.

Quickie on Pass

This will be a quick post.  I’m exhausted.  I hiked a little today, walked around the mall a little, climbed (and fell off) a rock wall bouldering, and ate intuitively.  All these things (especially the last) make me tired.

I am on a two day pass with my mother, which I was terrified would be HORRIBLE, but has actually turned out to be pretty decent.  I was most concerned about eating, but I seem to be handling that fairly well.  Actually, I haven’t had a snack tonight, but I had two snacks before dinner, so I’m feeling pretty okay with it.  I’m not really all that hungry.

Did you catch that?  I’m basing what I eat and when I eat based on hunger, not some stupid eating disordered rules.  I ate two pieces of spinach artichoke pizza tonight, followed by two slices of berry dessert pizza, and felt just fine about it.  I have my swim suit here at the hotel, so I could have gone to work it all off, but decided I am exhausted and just wanted to lay in bed and fall asleep ASAP.

After writing this post, of course, to tell you all that I love you and miss you and I don’t even have words to explain how bizarre these past few months have been, but I am in such a good place.

I want recovery.

I deserve it.

I am owning it and doing it.

Back to regularly scheduled posts and updates on August 3, when I rejoin the real world.  (Or, as I like to say, when they release me into the wild!)

Watch out, world! Back and stronger than ever!

To Know The Difference

Welcome to DAY ONE of my week-long attempt to blog everyday.

Also known as my “week-long therapy assignment to attempt to feel accomplishment at something other than starving and exercise.”

While my counselor is not so naive as to think that simply feeling “accomplished” at something outside of my eating disorder will miraculously cure me, she does think that throwing some of the energy I usually spend on my disorder into other pursuits will go a long way to helping me rediscover who I am, what I like, and that I actually have talents and interests outside of food and exercise.  Who knew?!

So,  each day, a friend is going to provide me with a writing prompt that I’ll complete.  If you want to join in on giving me prompts, please do!  Leave a comment with a question you want me to answer, a topic you’d like to hear my opinion on, whatever.  I would love to begin expanding my blog topics beyond whining about my meal plan.  I’m sure you, as my readers, would love that, too.

—–

Today’s prompt:  The Serenity Prayer

If you’re a twelve-stepper or, I imagine, a human being in America who has ever been in a cheesy gift shop, you are familiar with at least the first stanza of the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr:  God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. My friend challenged me to write out the Serenity Prayer and expand it:  what are the things I cannot change, what things can I change, where do I need wisdom?

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

such as:

  • I am a woman
  • I have emotions
  • I have physical, emotional, and spiritual needs
  • Recovery means gaining and maintaining weight
  • My family is my family – period
  • I have been abused and neglected in my past
  • People may perceive me poorly
  • I do not know the future
  • I failed a class in college

 

…the courage to change the things I can

such as:

  • How I react to my family
  • How I present myself to the world
  • How I deal with stress
  • Eating properly to fuel my body
  • Working through my past to make sure past abuse doesn’t cause future problems
  • Making strides to become the woman I want to be
  • How I spend my free time (in reading, prayer, or worship)

 

…and the wisdom to know the difference

such as the differences:

  • between vigilance and obsession
  • between running because it feels good and running because I want to hurt myself
  • between healthy acceptance of circumstances and feeling defeated or giving up
  • between helpful self-reflection and crazy-making navel-gazing
  • between genuinely not enjoying the taste of a food and not enjoying a food because it has such strong emotional ties

What do you think, friends?  Did I miss anything?  What differences have you had to learn in your recovery process?  I genuinely want to know!